BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rigor, Relevance and Relationship is the motto of Frederick Law Olmsted 156.  Students, faculty and staff headed back Friday with the mindset that kids can achieve.

It’s a big year for seniors like Lawrence Jackson. “I’m  feeling really good right now,” he said. “I woke up pretty early to get ready.”

Grades 5-12 go to school together here. So he says it creates a unique environment. “It makes me feel like more of a role model,” he said.  “All the younger kids look up to you.”

F.L. Olmsted is one of the top performing schools in the Buffalo Public School District, paving the way with a 96 percent graduation rate. Principal of the school, Dr. Michael Gruber says a lot of work goes into that rate by teachers, students and administrators. 

Dozens of local leaders greeted students as they headed to class. Superintendent Kriner Cash says a major focus this year will be improving test scores and keeping the graduation rate up across the district. “We’re going to have some fabulous new leadership in and around those schools, we’re going to innovate and give them everything they need so they can climb up into the 70’s and 80’s,” he said. 

The Buffalo Public School District was also the recipient of $500,000. Dr. Cash says that money will be put toward the arts and under funded areas.